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Van Andel Institute Parkinson’s Research

Van Andel Research Institute Expands Into New Areas Of Parkinson’s Research

Van Andel Institute advances in Parkinson’s research

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Nov. 16, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Van Andel Research Institute is continuing the expansion of its neurodegenerative disease research program, which aims to answer fundamental questions about diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, with the addition of two outstanding scientists. For more information, visit

Gerhard Coetzee, Ph.D., and Viviane Labrie, Ph.D., will join the Center for Neurodegenerative Science in November and March, respectively. They will utilize cutting-edge techniques to uncover the molecular underpinnings of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, helping to pave the way to new therapies that slow, stop or reverse disease progression. Their expertise in molecular biology, genome-wide association studies and epigenetics offer novel insight for investigating these diseases and augmenting research already underway at the Institute.

Epigenetic marks play an important role in determining whether a gene is switched “on” or “off,” and can contribute to disease development and progression. Neuroepigenetics, or epigenetic modifications in the brain, have been linked to functions such as learning, memory and stress responses, and have been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases.

Neuroepigenetics offers a new approach to uncovering the origins of Parkinson’s, a key step in developing better ways to diagnose and treat the disease and improving the quality of life for the seven to 10 million people around the world with Parkinson’s.

The Team Will Be One Of The First To Investigate Exactly How Age Factors Into Risk And Progression Of The Disease

MINNEAPOLIS, MN- September 21, 2020 A collaborative team between the University of Minnesota Medical School and Van Andel Institute will soon begin a $6.2 million study that seeks to define the molecular linkages between aging and Parkinsons disease an approach for new treatment targets not yet explored by many researchers. The group recently earned a three-year grant from the Aligning Science Across Parkinsons initiative, an international collaborative research effort partnering with The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research to implement its funding.

The study will combine four labs two Medical School faculty labs led by Michael Lee, PhD, a professor in the Department of Neuroscience, and Laura Niedernhofer, PhD, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics and two VAI Center for Neurodegenerative Science faculty labs led by Darren Moore, PhD, professor, and José Brás, PhD, associate professor. Lee, who is also with U of M Institute of Translational Neuroscience, is an expert in the cellular mechanisms of Parkinsons disease, which is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder that affects more than six million people worldwide.

Senescence, or the gradual deterioration of the bodys functional characteristics over time, is the expertise of Niedernhofer, who is the director of the U of M Institute on the Biology of Aging and Metabolism.


In Their Words: The Future Of Parkinsons Disease Research

In honor of Parkinsons Awareness Month and the 200th anniversary of Dr. James Parkinsons An Essay on the Shaking Palsy, we asked scientists in our Center for Neurodegenerative Science about the most exciting things happening right now in Parkinsons research. Heres what they said.

Associate Director of ResearchDirector, Center for Neurodegenerative Science

Although weve come a long way since An Essay on the Shaking Palsy in 1817, there is still much to be done. The last few years of Parkinsons research in particular have been especially heartening. From the promise of drug repurposing to discovering potential new biomarkers, we are well on the way to finding better ways to not only diagnose Parkinsons but to slow or stop it and to repair the damage it causes in the brain. This work is important, urgent andfor the seven to 10 million people globally with the disease, their families, their friends and the movement disorders communitydeeply personal. We will accept nothing less than life changing-treatments and, ultimately, a cure.

Dr. Lena BrundinAssociate Professor

Dr. Gerhard CoetzeeProfessor

Directors Scholar, Van Andel Research InstituteAlla V. and Solomon Jesmer Professor of Neurosciences, Rush University Medical Center

Dr. Viviane LabrieAssistant Professor

Dr. Jiyan MaProfessor

Dr. Darren MooreAssociate Professor

Dr. Jeremy Van RaamsdonkAssistant Professor

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Van Andel Institute Public Lecture Series: A Focus On Parkinsons Disease

Contact & More Info

This informative event will feature presentations and a Q& A session with Van Andel Research Institute scientists who are focused on the development of new treatments that slow or stop the progression of Parkinsons. Speakers will include Viviane Labrie, Ph.D. and Patrik Brundin, Ph.D.

In October, VARI scientists published a groundbreaking study describing the appendix as a potential starting point for Parkinsons. These findings hold new clues to Parkinsons earliest stages, how it progresses and how it might be stopped using new, targeted therapies. For the more than 60,000 people in the United States who will be diagnosed with Parkinsons this year, and the seven to 10 million people worldwide who have Parkinsons, this study offers new hope for improved treatments.

The event is free to attend with registration online. A boxed lunch is included with registration. For more information and to register, visit:

Van Andel Institute Virtual Public Lecture Series

VAI Van Andel Institute Public Lecture Series: A Focus on Translational ...

Van Andel Institute Virtual Public Lecture Series

Groundbreaking research and innovative education programs are at the heart of Van Andel Institute’s mission to improve health and enhance lives. Throughout the year, VAI’s Virtual Public Lecture Series shines a spotlight on the Institute’s latest research into diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, as well as the latest trends in K12 education.

Each lecture features presentations and Q& A sessions, allowing guests to engage directly with VAI’s world-class scientists and expert educators. The events will be hosted virtually, so you can participate in these important discussions wherever you are.

Topics for this year’s public lectures include Parkinson’s disease, immunity and metabolism and education. VAI scientists will share their latest research with guests, and our education experts will explore cutting-edge trends in science instruction.

Each lecture is scheduled for 121 p.m. and there is no cost to attend. Registration is required to access each presentation, and guests will receive an email with information on how to join prior to each event.

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Center For Cancer And Cell Biology

The Center for Cancer and Cell Biology is led by Bart Williams, Ph.D., an MIT-trained bone disease expert who was among the institute’s first scientists. It is the largest Center at the Institute and includes investigators studying the mechanisms underlying several cancers, including breast, pancreatic, sarcoma and prostate, and other diseases such as neurofibromatosis type I, diabetes and osteoarthritis.

Changing The Course: Parkinsons Disease Research In 2016

The time has come to shift the paradigm on Parkinsons disease.

Never before have we had the scientific capacity and the breadth of knowledge about Parkinsons that we do now. At the same time, the level of collaboration between scientists, clinicians, people with Parkinsons, advocates and industry is nothing short of breath-takingindividuals from all over the world, working together to beat Parkinsons.

The shift cant come soon enough. There have been few major breakthroughs in therapeutic development for Parkinsons in the last 50 years, with the exception of the gold standard therapy levodopa, and deep brain stimulation surgery. While these therapies mitigate symptoms, they do not correct the underlying cause of Parkinsons nor do they repair damage.

But there is hope on the horizon. Through individual and large-scale collaborative efforts, we are working to change the standard of care for Parkinsons and to find ways to drastically improve quality of life. At VARI, we focus on three points:

Biomarker discovery

One of the biggest challenges in Parkinsons is also one of the most basichow do we accurately diagnose and define it?

Unlike many other diseases, which may be diagnosed with a blood test or a biopsy, there are no definitive tests for Parkinsons. While this certainly presents a challenge for scientists and clinicians, it is most problematic for patients who deserve a cut-and-dry explanation of whats causing their symptoms.

This is where biomarkers come in.

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Cure Parkinsons Trust Van Andel Institute Give $45m To Support Trials Into New Treatments

Cure Parkinsons Trust and the Van Andel Institute will contribute $4.5 million in total to support a global program that seeks to develop disease-modifying Parkinsons therapies.

The three-year funding agreement backs the international Linked Clinical Trials initiative, established by the two organizations in 2012 to identify treatments that might slow, stop, and reverse Parkinsons disease largely by repurposing therapies approved to treat other conditions.

Each year, the LCTs scientific committee identifies the most promising medicines to advance into clinical trials assessing their efficacy in PD. Choosing therapies that have already undergone safety and toxicology tests can potentially slash the time and funding it normally takes to test a new treatment and, if successful, get it to patients.

Right now, 15 clinical trials of committee-selected treatments are underway, and seven investigations have concluded, the release states. Ten additional studies are being planned. More than 2,500 people have taken part in trials to date.

We are thrilled to continue our long-standing collaboration with the Cure Parkinsons Trust on the international Linked Clinical Trials initiative and look forward to expanding our program to evaluate additional promising medications in the coming years, said Patrik Brundin, chair of the program committee and director of the VAI Center for Neurodegenerative Science, in a press release.

Van Andel Institute Graduate School

Parkinson’s disease research update

Van Andel Institute Graduate School offers an accredited Ph.D. program in cell and molecular genetics that is designed to foster problem-based thinking and research leadership. VAIGS also offers an M.D./Ph.D. program in partnership with Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. Medical School.

VAIGS was founded in 2005 under the leadership of then-VAEI director Gordon Van Harn, Ph.D. The first graduating class was in 2012. VAIGS was accredited by the HLC on November 12, 2013. Steven J. Triezenberg, Ph.D., was named the founding dean in 2006.

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Van Andel Institute: Virtual Public Lecture Series

Van Andel Institute recently hosted a virtual webinar to discuss Clinical Trials and Collaboration in Parkinsons Disease as part of their Public Lecture Series. This informative event featured presentations and a Q& A session with international Parkinsons disease experts including Cure Parkinsons Director of Research, Dr Richard Wyse and Deputy Director of Research, Dr Simon Stott.

For the millions of people around the world with Parkinsons, treatments that slow or stop disease progression are desperately needed. One promising approach to find such therapies is drug repurposing rigorously evaluating medications for other diseases, such as diabetes, as potential treatments for Parkinsons. The foremost initiative in this area is the International Linked Clinical Trials, a programme spearheaded by Cure Parkinsons in collaboration with Van Andel Institute that brings together some of the worlds leading Parkinsons scientists, clinicians and advocates to clinically evaluate whether existing medications can impede Parkinsons progression.

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Core Technologies And Services

The institute’s laboratories are supported by a Core Technologies and Services group that comprises eight shared scientific services:

In 2017, the Institute established the David Van Andel Advanced Cryo-Electron Microscopy Suite as part of an expansion of its structural biology program. The $10 million investment included the installation of an FEI Titan Krios cryo-electron microscope, a Talos Arctica cryo-electron microscope and a Tecnai Spirit G2 BioTWIN screening microscope.

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Vari And The Netherlands Strengthen Parkinsons Collaboration

The research division of the Van Andel Institute and Netherlands-based ParkinsonNet will bring an innovative health care concept to Grand Rapids.

During the Dutch royal couples tour of VAI earlier this month, representatives of the Van Andel Research Institute and ParkinsonNet signed a letter of understanding to establish a ParkinsonNet in the West Michigan area in which Grand Rapids would be the main hub of the Dutch organizations expansion in the region.

Signed by Dr. Patrik Brundin, associate director of research at VARI, Dr. Bastiaan Bloem, CEO of ParkinsonNet, and Marten Munneke, managing director at ParkinsonNet, the letter of understanding is the latest in a series of efforts to further strengthen relationships between scientists at VARI and in the Netherlands.

Brundin, professor and director of the Center for Neurodegenerative Science, and head of the laboratory of Translational Parkinsons Disease Research at VARI, said the institute has been interested in exploring a partnership with ParkinsonNet for a while, and signing the document during the royal couples tour was a fantastic opportunity.

The royal couple, or specifically the king, is very interested in Parkinsons disease because his father had Parkinsons, and I can say as an outsider, he is extremely excited about ParkinsonNet in particular, said Brundin.

That is exactly what we would like to bring to Grand Rapids.

This will mean they live better lives and have fewer complications, said Brundin.

Grand Challenges In Parkinson’s Disease

Van Andel Institute: Virtual public lecture series

Grand Challenges in Parkinsons Disease brings together hundreds of scientists, clinicians and people with Parkinsons to explore the latest in Parkinsons disease translational research. The 2022 symposium, Modifying Progression From Molecules to Trials, will highlight recent advances that may fuel development of therapies to slow or stop disease progression something not possible with current treatments. Speakers will highlight both the underlying molecular science of Parkinsons and the outcomes of new clinical trials. They also will explore the role of mitochondrial function, neuroinflammation, alpha-synuclein and lysosomes in Parkinsons, with a focus on how these factors may be targeted with disease-modifying treatments. Lastly, they will spotlight new insights into GLP-1 agonists and c-Abl inhibition as potential therapeutic avenues.

Van Andel Institute and Cure Parkinsons are thrilled to once again host Rallying to the Challenge, a meeting designed for and by people with Parkinsons, advocates and care partners that delves into how the Parkinsons community can impact and accelerate research.

For questions or to be added to our mailing list, please contact Kim Cousineau via email .

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Van Andel Institute Others Aim To Speed Up Parkinsons Disease Research With $63 Million Grant

Dr. Hong-yuan Chu is leading a Van Andel Institute research team exploring treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

GRAND RAPIDS, MI Van Andel Institute researchers and others in a collaborative project are using a $6.3 million grant to speed up research on Parkinsons disease.

Emory University in Atlanta received the grant from Aligning Science Across Parkinsons Collaborative Research Network, or ASAP, which is fostering collaboration and resources to better understand the underlying causes of the disease.

Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.

Center For Neurodegenerative Science

The Center for Neurodegenerative Science was established in 2012 and is led by Patrik Brundin, M.D., Ph.D., one of the top-cited Parkinson’s disease scientists in the world. The center primarily investigates the underlying causes of Parkinson’s disease and has several lines of research aimed at finding disease-modifying therapies, a current unmet need in the treatment of Parkinson’s. Other diseases of interest include Alzheimer’s disease and prion diseases.

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Translational Parkinsons Disease Research

Research in Patrik Brundins laboratory focuses on pathogenetic mechanisms and pharmacological treatment in cell and animal models of Parkinsons disease. The groups mission is to understand neurodegenerative diseases and develop new therapies that are of benefit to patients and their caregivers.


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Location: Grand Rapids Miunited States

Virtual Public Lecture Series: Clinical Trials and Collaboration in Parkinsons Disease

Patrik Brundin joined the Van Andel Institute in 2012, where he is deputy chief scientific officer and directs the Parkinsons Disease Center. He earned a PhD in 1988 and an MD in 1992 from Lund University, Sweden and is highly cited in neuroscience with more than 400 publications on PD and related topics. His research focuses on pathogenic mechanisms of PD and development of therapies that repair damaged brain circuits and slow or stop disease progression. He has 40 years of experience in neural transplantation research, including clinical trials. He is a member of the board of directors for the World Parkinson Coalition and the executive scientific advisory board of The Michael J. Fox Foundation. He also serves as co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Parkinsons Disease and chair of the International Linked Clinical Trials scientific committee.

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